BA is to test a scheme for using the iPad 2 to improve in-flight customer service
British Airways is testing a scheme that will see cabin crew using Apple’s iPad 2 to replace paper and improve customer service.
BA will first roll the iPads out to 100 cabin crew, with a further 1,800 senior crew members getting the devices if the idea proves successful.
The iPads will replace paper passenger manifests, giving access to passenger information including meal preferences, which passengers are travelling together and frequent flyer club status.
They will list, for instance, which passengers have connecting flights, helping crew to make arrangements in the event of a delay.
Staff will ordinarily update the tablets before takeoff over a 3G network, but on flights with Internet access crew will be able to send messages to ground crew to aid with any preparations that might be needed.
“The iPad is already allowing us to offer a more personalised onboard service, but the possibilities for future developments are endless,” said Bill Francis, British Airways’ head of inflight customer experience, in a statement.
Some airlines have already issued iPads to airline pilots to replace paper manuals and documents, which ordinarily weigh 25 to 35 pounds.
The move, carried out by Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Airlines, saves flight weight, thus allowing planes to consume less fuel. American said it also saved $1.5 million in printing costs through the switch.
“The tablets simulate what we do in the paper world, but makes it much easier to load the pages you want and not lose or misplace anything,” said American Airlines captain David Clark.
The use of tablets has disrupted several airlines’ plans to introduce notebooks and netbooks into the flight bag. Several airlines have been testing these since 2007 but the lightness and ease-of-use of the iPad has made many of them re-evaluate their aims.